Interact, React

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This photo depicts several of the social problems we observed: waste management issues – there are piles of litter everywhere – and many people do not wear shoes, which is a significant health risk.

Yesterday was our first day in the town of Bhimavaram and we set out on a “warm-up” interactive team exercise: a “scavenger hunt”, including capturing photos of quintessential Indian experiences such as bartering in the market and riding a bicycle rickshaw, gathering evidence/artifacts of social problems and solutions, and interviewing the locals to practice our primary research skills.  Fewer people speak English in the rural areas, so Mike and I were paired with our “interpreter” who was a former school headmaster provided to translate the Telugu spoken language.  Our experience with the interpreter created some personal frustrations since he seemed to have a well-meaning but misguided tour guide attitude, wanting to be the host and curator of our experience as opposed to our safety net if we needed assistance.  In this type of situation, I find myself tending to take a backseat instead of asserting myself, and I ended up feeling somewhat coddled and even slightly bored.  Combine this with the fact that I’ve been having moments here when we are in our guest house rooms or in the classroom, surrounded by the familiar faces of my cohort, I feel as if I could be anywhere in the world, and I forget we are in India .  This morning I had the realization that my serious case of detachment can only be blamed upon myself: our guides/hosts are here to make us feel as welcome and comfortable as possible, and I am the one responsible to push myself to feel challenged, to learn, to work on my leadership development competencies, and to have the sort of experience that I have apparently been expecting to have happen to me.

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Yesterday ended on a high note when we went outside of the town and into the village and were met with a throng of adorable kids who followed us around practicing their English words.